Bipartisan US Senate report backs spy agencies' findings on Russia

CIA, NSA and FBI had well-constructed grounds to conclude Putin aimed to undercut Trump’s 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton

Reuters April 21, 2020
CIA, NSA and FBI had well-constructed grounds to conclude Putin aimed to undercut Trump’s 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

WASHINGTON: The US Senate Intelligence Committee concurred with spy agencies’ findings that Russia sought to boost now-President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to a bipartisan report declassified and released on Tuesday.

The report found that the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation had coherent and well-constructed grounds to conclude that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to undercut Trump’s 2016 rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump, who has consistently bristled at suggestions that foreign interference helped his upset 2016 victory, has sought to discredit the intelligence agencies’ findings as the politically charged work of a “deep state.” Russia has denied that it was behind any efforts to meddle in US elections.

The Senate report - the fourth of five chapters so far released - found that the CIA and FBI had high confidence in their findings that Russia was trying to boost Trump’s chances, while the NSA was only moderately confident on that point.

It said that interviews with officials who drafted and prepared the intelligence community assessment had “affirmed that analysts were under no political pressure to reach specific conclusions.”

The report comes as Trump seeks re-election, looking ahead to a November match-up in which he will likely face Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden.

The report, formally called the “Intelligence Community Assessment,” is heavily redacted, which sources familiar with the document said was because it is extensively based on documentation and testimony that remain highly classified.

“One of the ICA’s most important conclusions was that Russia’s aggressive interference efforts should be considered ‘the new normal,’” said the committee’s chairman, Republican Senator Richard Burr.

The committee is still working on a final chapter summarizing its investigation. Congressional sources said that unlike the first four chapters, which present conclusions agreed upon by the committee’s Republican majority and Democratic minority, the fifth chapter will reflect at least some partisan differences over the extent to which interference by Russia influenced the result of the 2016 US presidential election.


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